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Sweeney, Beach Bill to Expand Eligibility to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant Approved by Senate

Trenton – In an effort to expand the ranks of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), the Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Jim Beach that would establish a program to enable family members and others to train as CNAs and provide private duty nursing services to NJ FamilyCare or Medicaid enrollees under age 21.


“For many families living with child with severe medical needs, caring for them can turn into a full-time job,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “In an effort to assist these families, by expanding the parameters to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, we can help these families earn compensation for the work that they are doing to care for a loved one. As we continue to recuperate from the losses felt early on during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative we do all that we can to bolster an overstretched direct-care workforce. By establishing this program, we will be able to expand who can become a CNA, fill staffing gaps and care for everyone in the way they deserve to be cared for.”


The bill, S-3847 would require the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS) to establish a program to allow a family member of an enrollee in Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare, or a third-party individual approved by the enrollee’s parent or guardian, to become qualified as a CNA. They would be able to provide CNA services to the enrollee through a private duty nursing agency, under the direction of a registered nurse. Specifically, an individual who becomes a CNA under the program would be reimbursed at a rate of at least $30 per hour.


“Parents who care for a child with severe medical issues often take on a full-time workload caring for their kid without any compensation,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “This bill is critical in order to provide them with some aid while also helping the currently overstretched healthcare workforce.”


Under the bill, the program would only apply to enrollees who are under 21 years of age and qualify for private duty nursing services under Medicaid or NJ FamilyCare. The DMAHS would be required to develop an assessment tool that would readily identify enrollees who meet the criteria for eligibility.


In order to become a certified CNA, family members or approved third-party individuals would be required to complete all of the training, testing, and other qualification criteria that are required under state and federal law for certification as a CNA.


The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 38-1.